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Famine in North Korea Redux?

Author

Listed:
  • Stephan Haggard

    () (University of California, San Diego)

  • Marcus Noland

    () (East-West Center & Peterson Institute of International Economics)

Abstract

In the 1990s, 600,000-1 million North Koreans, or about 3-5 percent of the pre-crisis population perished in one of the worst famines of the 20th century. North Korea is once again poised on the brink of famine. Although the renewed provision of aid is likely to avert a disaster on the scale of the 1990s, hunger-related deaths are already occurring and a dynamic has been set in motion that will carry the crisis into 2009. North Korea is a complex humanitarian emergency characterized by highly imperfect information. This paper triangulates quantity and price evidence with direct observation to assess food insecurity in North Korea and its causes. We critique the widely-cited UN figures and present original data on grain quantities and prices. These data demonstrate that for the first time since the 1990s famine, the aggregate grain balance has gone into deficit. Prices have also risen steeply. The re-emergence of pathologies from the famine era is documented through direct observation. Although exogenous shocks have played a role, foreign and domestic policy choices have been key.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephan Haggard & Marcus Noland, 2008. "Famine in North Korea Redux?," Economics Study Area Working Papers 97, East-West Center, Economics Study Area.
  • Handle: RePEc:ewc:wpaper:wp97
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Marcus Noland, 2004. "Famine and Reform in North Korea," Asian Economic Papers, MIT Press, vol. 3(2), pages 1-40.
    2. Kim, Woon Keun & Lee, Hyunok & Sumner, Daniel A, 1998. "Assessing the Food Situation in North Korea," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(3), pages 519-535, April.
    3. Stephan Haggard & Marcus Noland & Erik Weeks, 2008. "North Korea on the Precipice of Famine," Policy Briefs PB08-6, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    4. Noland, Marcus & Robinson, Sherman & Wang, Tao, 2001. "Famine in North Korea: Causes and Cures," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(4), pages 741-767, July.
    5. Marcus Noland, 2000. "Avoiding the Apocalypse: The Future of the Two Koreas," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 94.
    6. Marcus Noland, 2004. "Korea after Kim Jong-il," Peterson Institute Press: Policy Analyses in International Economics, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number pa71, October.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Haggard, Stephan & Noland, Marcus, 2010. "Reform from below: Behavioral and institutional change in North Korea," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 133-152, February.
    2. Stephan Haggard & Marcus Noland, 2007. "North Korea's External Economic Relations," Working Paper Series WP07-7, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    3. Noland, Marcus & Haggard, Stephan, 2010. "Political attitudes under repression: evidence from North Korean refugees," MPRA Paper 21713, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Paul Hare, 2012. "North Korea: Building the Institutions to Raise Living Standards," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(3), pages 487-509, September.
    5. R. Anton Braun & Tomoyuki Nakajima, 2011. "Making the case for a low intertemporal elasticity of substitution," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2011-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    6. Stephan Haggard & Marcus Noland, 2010. "The Winter of Their Discontent: Pyongyang Attacks the Market," Policy Briefs PB10-1, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    7. Stephan Haggard & Marcus Noland, 2009. "The Political Economy of North Korea: Implications for Denuclearization and Proliferation," Economics Study Area Working Papers 104, East-West Center, Economics Study Area.
    8. Stephan Haggard & Marcus Noland & Erik Weeks, 2008. "North Korea on the Precipice of Famine," Policy Briefs PB08-6, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    9. Haggard, Stephan & Lee, Jennifer & Noland, Marcus, 2012. "Integration in the absence of institutions: China–North Korea cross-border exchange," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 130-145.
    10. Marcus Noland & Stephan Haggard, 2012. "Networks, Trust, and Trade: The Microeconomics of China–North Korea Integration," Working Paper Series WP12-8, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    11. Stephen Devereux, 2009. "Why does famine persist in Africa?," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 1(1), pages 25-35, February.
    12. Wintrobe Ronald, 2013. "North Korea as a Military Dictatorship," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 19(3), pages 459-471, December.
    13. Noland, Marcus & Haggard, Stephan, 2009. "Repression and punishment in North Korea: survey evidence of prison camp experiences," MPRA Paper 17705, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Chang, Yoonok & Haggard, Stephan & Noland, Marcus, 2009. "Exit polls: Refugee assessments of North Korea's transition," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, pages 144-150.
    15. David Shim, 2010. "How Signifying Practices Constitute Food (In)security The Case of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea," GIGA Working Paper Series 122, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
    16. Wintrobe , Ronald, 2013. "The Logic of the North Korean Dictatorship," NEPS Working Papers 5/2013, Network of European Peace Scientists.
    17. Cullen S. Hendrix, 2011. "Markets vs. Malthus: Food Security and the Global Economy," Policy Briefs PB11-12, Peterson Institute for International Economics.

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    JEL classification:

    • F - International Economics

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